Mormonism has a distinctive view of God that differs quite a bit from that of traditional theism. And though we as Latter-day Saints recognize and most often celebrate the differences, in our Sunday and typical discourse about God and God’s power and influence, we very often sound as if there is little distinctiveness. One way into a discussion of things like this is through the term “worship.” The Bible and LDS scriptures all speak of “worshiping” God, yet the term has pretty distinct meanings in wider theism that perhaps don’t match up with the kinds of attitudes toward God that Mormon claims might suggest. (For instance, in the LDS view, would God even be interested in being “worshiped”?) This concept of worship, then, becomes a good diving off point into the wider discussions about LDS versus traditional theism, concepts like omnipotence, and whether the LDS God could really even be considered a God with a “capital G” (God) or if better described with a “lower-case g” (god).
In these episodes, Dennis Potter poses such questions about Mormon views and language about God, calling for greater clarity. Jim McLachlan and Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon respond with reasons for their still preferring the LDS view of God and why terms like God and omnipotence and worship should be allowed breathing room and a chance to evolve in ways that avoid charges of dodging certain issues or equivocating on terms in order to still have a coherent and compelling view.
These two episodes have an interesting history. The second one (Episode 183) was recorded first, but it was ultimately rejected as not being a good fit for Mormon Matters podcast as it ended up being just too philosophically technical, too jargony and with too many side trips that took it away from the topic of LDS vs. traditional theism. It truly unfolded as two friends—Dennis and Jim—who hadn’t been able to speak in a long while, catching up and doing what they love to do, while employing all the shorthands and assuming each other’s previous familiarity with the philosophers and history of discussion they are engaged in. The philosophy geeks among the Mormon Matters listeners will likely enjoy this discussion, so we still post it here (though).
Episode 182, then, is the discussion that took place after we shut down the other one, a discussion in which we stayed much more on topic and went far less into subtle philosophical distinctions. Though still a few side trips! Impossible to avoid, but these, we think, are still of general interest to most listeners.
We hope you will enjoy and share comments below! No guilt please if you only listen to the first episode!